Missing Documentation Pix for Newbies

A place for users to point out missing information, errors, typos and suggestions for the Cinemar documentation.
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cairndhu1998
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Missing Documentation Pix for Newbies

Postby cairndhu1998 » Sun Jul 11, 2010 9:55 am

Folks, I am having a terrible time trying to figure out how to use Main Lobby. I might be able to do better if I could see the many figures allegedly distributed throughout the Wiki, e.g.:

"The Button Properties panel is opened by double-clicking a button on the MainLobby Stage while in Edit mode (Figure 3-1)."

THERE IS NO Figure 3-1 (or any other figure for that matter). While I normally use FireFox, I even tried Internet Exploder just in case your Wiki was browser specific. Where are all the figures? Might I be doing something wrong, i.e., they are there but my browser cannot see them? How do view them? Thanks.

"Figure 3-1 Button Properties Panel"

BTW: While I had planned to buy one of your AIO-Touch 12.1" @ US $1649.99, I see no reason to risk money on an
expensive, non-returnable item if I am unlikely to get it to work.

HELP![/color]
James ("Jim") Wm White
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Tucson, AZ 85745
cairndhu1998@cox.net
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Re: Missing Documentation Pix for Newbies

Postby CinemarDave » Sun Jul 11, 2010 11:55 am

The broken images on that wiki page have been restored. Remember, if you have questions this forum is a great place to ask them.

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Re: Missing Documentation Pix for Newbies

Postby mcascio » Sun Jul 11, 2010 12:26 pm

Jim,

Sorry for your issues with the wiki. Our server's were moved at some point creating dead links. As Dave mentioned they should have been fixed.

Feel free to inquire about anything else that comes to mind.
Mario Cascio
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Missing Documentation Still Missing

Postby cairndhu1998 » Mon Jul 12, 2010 12:19 pm

I just looked. The figures are still missing. Here's a sample "Cut & Paste"

Workshop - Assigning Actions to Buttons

3.1 Button Properties Panel

The Button Properties panel is where you tell MainLobby what a button will do when executed by an input device such as a mouse, keyboard, remote control, or touchscreen. Buttons can only be executed while MainLobby is running in Launch mode. Once you have added a button from the Library to the MainLobby Stage, you can edit the button properties to tell MainLobby what you would like the button to do.

Any button can perform one or multiple functions. For instance, a button press could load another MainLobby Scene, play an MP3 sound and launch a web page all at the same time. If no entries are found in an input field, those actions are simply ignored.

The Button Properties panel is opened by double-clicking a button on the MainLobby Stage while in Edit mode (Figure 3-1).

STILL NO FIGURE

Figure 3-1 Button Properties Panel

3.2 Button Properties Panel - Quick Reference
James ("Jim") Wm White
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Re: Missing Documentation Pix for Newbies

Postby mcascio » Tue Jul 13, 2010 7:39 am

Mario Cascio

Cinemar, Inc.

http://www.cinemaronline.com

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Documentation Pix Links

Postby cairndhu1998 » Wed Jul 14, 2010 9:58 am

No I was not! Your first link has lots of pix. I was using
http://wiki.cinemaronline.com/index.php ... NT_BUTTONS
which had no pix. Obviously, I stumbled onto a bad link! (and there are others covering other topics)
Is there a place where I can find all the "good links" to your documentation? Many thanks, Jim.
James ("Jim") Wm White
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Tucson, AZ 85745
cairndhu1998@cox.net
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Re: Missing Documentation Pix for Newbies

Postby mcascio » Wed Jul 14, 2010 5:44 pm

Hi Jim,

Most of the wiki should have pictures...you just stumbled onto an older version of the MainLobby wiki. The newer version starts here:
http://wiki.cinemaronline.com/index.php ... 3_Designer

But the entire wiki which includes each plugin starts here:
http://wiki.cinemaronline.com/index.php?title=Main_Page

Don't be afraid to ask questions here if you can't find the answer in the wiki.
Mario Cascio

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Re: Missing Documentation Pix for Newbies

Postby DGF » Thu Jul 15, 2010 10:37 am

mcascio wrote:Hi Jim,

Most of the wiki should have pictures...you just stumbled onto an older version of the MainLobby wiki. The newer version starts here:
http://wiki.cinemaronline.com/index.php ... 3_Designer


But even in this doc there are still 30 instances of "Insert Image Here" on the page - just scroll down a bit.

The missing images probably aren't that critical to gaining an overall understanding of the ML basics, but they do add to the burden of trying to come up to speed with the suite.

[On a related, but hopefully not perceived as thread-hijacking, topic] Is there any documentation that bridges the gap between the wiki you referenced and attaining the higher levels of enlightenment that many of the very talented individuals on the forum have achieved? On several occasions I have come up to speed with the fundamentals, only to become frustrated with my attempts to move "onwards and upwards" - I am certain that I am not the only person to have experienced this situation.

On reading the available documentation, I am always left with the feeling that I'm missing the next piece of the puzzle. For sure, there are many wonderfully creative contributers on the forum that generously provide guidance and coaching, but sometimes I don't know how to articulate a plea for assistance. I guess I'm looking for a "Not quite an absolute idiot's guide"!

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Re: Missing Documentation Pix for Newbies

Postby DavidL » Thu Jul 15, 2010 11:38 am

Hi DGF,
When I first created the Wiki, it was intended as a collaboration tool between Cinemar AND the many expert users / dealers that Cinemar has. Unfortunately, it ended up being 99% Cinemar contributions. Even Cinemar doesn't always use the tool consistently. With that said, as a reminder, anyone can contribute to the evolution of the Wiki. Hopefully that will be more useful, tested accurate information than spam.

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Re: Missing Documentation Pix for Newbies

Postby mcascio » Thu Jul 15, 2010 12:00 pm

That's our fault. We started converting our old PDF manual to the wiki at one point and never completed it. I've begun filling in the missing images slowly but surely. :)

Because of the flexibility of the Cinemar software it's difficult or next to impossible to create a dummies guide. The best way to approach learning the system is to break your project down into tasks of what you want to do...then identify the plugin that will do it for you. Then refer to the documentation for that plugin.
Mario Cascio

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Re: Missing Documentation Pix for Newbies

Postby DGF » Thu Jul 15, 2010 2:51 pm

Hi guys,

Thanks for the responses - all very understandable. I was just trying to provide input on new user "first impressions" - all these nuances contribute to the formulation of an overall picture of the suite's quality, level of support, etc. I feel that the absence of these images has the potential to compromise the perceptions of quality (and occurs in one of the first documents that a new user encounters).

Given the fantatstic flexibility of the products and aImost infinite number of plug-in combinations, I also understand the challenges involved in creating a "Beginners-Plus" guide. However, I'd speculate that the availablity of robust documentation addressing how to move out of the fundamental stage would have a positive impact on the conversion of trial ML users into fully commited Cinemar advocates.

The forum obviously contains a wealth of information, but utilizing it to navigate an expeditious path forward frequently feels like pushing the proverbial rope. Maybe I'm looking for something that isn't perceived as being in demand, or my personal profile doesn't fall into your target demographic - but from everything I've read on your web site, I think I would represent the typical individual at which your suite is aimed (PC literate, coding experience, AV + home automation enthusiast, multi-product, multi-room install, allocated budget for hobbies, etc.).

I'd be very interested to hear the experiences of other users in their attempts to escape the gravitational pull of "0019_home.mls" - it could be that I'm being especially stoopid (it wouldn't be the first time!).

Dave

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Re: Missing Documentation Pix for Newbies

Postby mcascio » Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:29 pm

DGF,

We are all ears and want to continue to improve the user first time experience. Perhaps you can provide more details about what you'd like to see covered more extensively?
Mario Cascio

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Re: Missing Documentation Pix for Newbies

Postby DGF » Fri Jul 23, 2010 5:01 pm

Hi Mario,

Apologies for the delay in responding – working/eating/sleeping pulled rank!

I appreciate your request for further feedback – the challenge is now on me to try to articulate what I’ve been bleating about!

On reflection, what I feel is missing is a smooth path that takes a neophyte user through to having sufficient confidence to embark on a creating a viable system that is suitably robust for everyday use. I perceive there to be a void between understanding the concepts employed in the home_0019 demo scenes and taking these to the next level of sophistication and usability.

Maybe I’m approaching the whole design creation process incorrectly – as recommended, I begin by making a list of all my locations, the functionality I need at each location, the equipment I want to control, etc. Following this, I map out my initial screen/scene hierarchy and navigation paths. I try to have a pretty clear picture of my ‘design fundamentals’ – what rules I will use to position buttons and design elements (placement, static versus scene-dependent, etc.).

All the above steps flow fairly logically, but in the absence of any ‘official’ recommendations or guidance, I’m never sure if this is an optimal progression through the design process, or if some of the decisions I’m making will create compromises or necessitate trade-offs further downstream.

I then get to the point of moving from design to implementation. I understand that the recommended method of learning ML is to dip one’s toe into the water and gain familiarity through “doing it” – however, attempting to pass through this phase can be extremely arduous. I can’t specifically put a finger on why I feel this way, but the identification, positioning, enabling, etc. of each component always seems to necessitate much trial and error, and numerous searches of the forum and wikis.

I’ve gained enough knowledge to create scenes to control my Lexicon pre-processor and B&K CT610, and have incorporated many of the free plug-ins – however, I’ve never achieved levels of usability, reliability and repeatability that I feel makes my creation suitable for prime time (i.e. everyday use by family members and friends). I’m always left with the feeling that my ‘trial and error’ creation process has inadvertently lead to the implementation of a fundamentally flawed design. This is where I feel that there is an opportunity for more comprehensive documentation (or online training?).

From a new user perspective, there are numerous ‘idiosyncrasies’ that I feel can collectively begin to compromise confidence. These range from the aforementioned documentation issues, retrieval of lost user login ID or password (I’ve never seen an online login screen that doesn’t tell a user how to retrieve ID or PW info before), creation of multiple folders in the Program Files folder (why can’t all Cinemar products be installed in one central location?) thru to there being no convenient way to view the portfolio of available scenes (versus explicitly calling each one individually from the MainLobby “open” menu). A very powerful feature of ML is the use of layers – in edit mode, one would expect the controls to add/edit a new layer would be under the “layers” button – guess what…? I could go on, but you get my point.

I understand that there are probably very justifiable reasons behind each of these ‘eccentricities’ – it’s just that together they begin to create a dynamic that has the potential to negatively influence a new user’s perception of the suite.

It is my personal opinion that making the experience of a first time user as painless as possible is of critical importance. It may make sense to revisit what new users are actually experiencing.

*****
Apologies for the length of this missive. Also, it may feel like I am being negative and disparaging – actually the opposite is true: I am a big fan of MainLobby and the very talented Cinemar team – I’ve tried to be as objective as possible and to raise some points that I hope will be taken in the spirit in which they were intended – that of constructive feedback. It’s in all of our interests that Cinemar continues to thrive!

Dave

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Re: Missing Documentation Pix for Newbies

Postby ronsatter » Fri Jul 23, 2010 11:36 pm

Hi Dave,

Forgive me for jumping in here ... I've been following this thread and just read your last entry. You express your frustrations very skillfully. Are you a writer by trade? We obviously can use some help with the Cinemar wiki :lol:

As a long time user of Cinemar and regular forum contributor, I have to say reading your "bleat" as you call it, made me smile and remember the times when I wished I could break through the seemingly impossible ML learning curve. The truth is ... building a dynamic, interactive home and media control system that is robust and 100% reliable is a great techno myth. Even when all the complex pieces are seemingly humming along nicely for awhile ... along comes something out of nowhere and causes the "Extreme Turbulence ... Fasten Your Seatbelts" sign to flash.

To deal with this frustration, I personally do not try to create the perfect MainLobby Suite. Sometimes I get a little cocky and try to show off my "project" to neighbors and friends ... only to be humbled because one of my kids has managed to bring down the system by some mysterious combination of requests which totally bring MainLobby to its knees.

So, I prefer to approach the ML learning experience as a fun hobby with lots of room for mistakes. It's true the wikis are weak. But as David L has often mentioned, the original intention was to provide a platform for continual updating by the forum users. This duty falls on the more experienced ML users and I confess that I have complained more than contributed.

In summary, the ability to move from the "Out-Of-The-Box" ML product to a customized one takes countless hours of reading the forum posts and experimenting. If you have a problem ... one thing is certain ... if you ask on the forum ... someone will try to help you. You can't avoid asking for help, if you seriously want to achieve an above average ML experience. My suggestion is that you just jump in ... don't be shy ... we all have been where you are. It's fun to work together.

Ron
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Re: Missing Documentation Pix for Newbies

Postby cadillackid » Mon Jul 26, 2010 10:15 am

I have been using mainlobby for 5 years or more in my own house and i still learn lots of new things about it... to complicate matters im running my ML as purely an interface to Homeseer.. there are quite a few that way as i recall...

one of the things that helped me was to start entirely simple.. oh I downloaded example scenes originally from everywhere and got completely overwhelmed by long strings of MLServer commands and was rather discouraged to say the least.. and im a total techie guy.. I write code, I build hardware to suit my needs etc..

so finally when I created my first scene that could turn the spot lights above my fireplace on and off I was happy that I could at least do that....

then next it went to being able to set the temperature for one of my rooms.. and on it went adding completely mundane tasks to the stage with pretty boring looking buttons....

but I learned how to cut and paste, align buttons on the stage, then began using more and more complex MLServe commands.. let me see if I could turn on 3 lights with one button.. could I touch a picture of a bulb on the screen and just have one set of on / off / dim buttons, etc.. all the while not caring about how the scene looked... just that it worked....

then later I added the floor plan of my house to the screen and located the little lights on it and could touch them and they would turn on and off...

on it went from there.. oh I surely went through the 0019 stuff and wanted to just be able to transform it into my house.. but that just made me more confused....

as time as gone on I have created many different ML scenes for my house.. and like another post stated.. they work MOST of the time... and if something is going to break its going to be at the worst time...

for example my MusicLobby just quit playing yesterday.. right in the middle of a song... right silent... no button would get it back to life....oh and i was cooking food for the dinner party that was to arrive 20 minutes later... my parents 50th wedding party.. and my MusicLobby is dead.. and pretty soon I get a text on my cell that communications from Homeseer to my Master HVAC controller has just ceased operations.. wait a minute 15 people coming to my house.. 90 degrees outside and the HVAC controller is bonkers??

ahhh but the wonders of start---shutdown----restart and alas after the clunky server 2003 rebooted and all RDP clients reconnected.. alas once again the vents blew cold and music filled the house.. and the wall mounted screens greeted the guests... and all has been perfect....

to me Home and theatre automation has a definite purpose.. it surely keeps me comfortable and I dare say saves some energy from my careless ways of leaving lights on or forgetting to turn off the thermostats when I leave.. but a big part of it is a Hobby... its just plain fun... if you look at it that way you have a lot nicer time with it...

to look at it and MainLobby as a turnkey product will only end up in frustration... there are companies that make more turnkey products out there... and they cost too... no MainLobby isnt cheap... However you have a completely customized system.. that you know how it works, and is yours - no one elses....

-Christopher


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